Weekend’s Running

A mixed bag of running this weekend – a tale of two halves if you will…

Saturday morning brought with it the early morning amassing of 627 people for Parkrun in Poole. This was a record turn out – and it felt like it! I usually love Parkrun and still enjoyed it this week but it just felt a little too massive – so many people in a small space! It was a week for fast runs too as I came in at 18:48 and was still 47th, this time would usually get me inside the top 20… Even the winner did a PB of 15:08. 15:08! Can you imagine! I may try one of the other local Parkruns soon as they are generally a little quieter.

Note to self: Buy some longer shorts and smile when I see a camera. This must have been the final lap ; )

Poole Parkrun

Poole Parkrun 5th April 2014 – Photo: Rob Steele

Then on the Sunday and The Long Run. It was my wife’s last weekend before doing the London Marathon next Sunday so she went out for a relatively short 10 mile run at 8:30am. When she returned I headed out into the rain, making the mistake of wearing my running jacket, a big mistake as I was boiling hot within 10 minutes! The worst thing however was my ankle, which began to twinge slightly 10 minutes in and by the time i’d run 4k was hurting so much I was limp-running – never a good thing. So frustratingly I had to limp-run back home and instead of my planned 90 minute run, I’d run for 20 minutes – not good!  I’m hoping it was a one-off thing and will try making up the mileage by doing 8-9 miles tonight but I don’t want to risk making my ankle worse.

Nike LunarGlide +5

My Nike LunarGlide+5 trainers

I have a theory that it’s because the foam in my Nike Lunarglides has stiffened. I used to have a dodgy ankle but found that Lunarglides negated whatever it was that was causing my pain so they have been my shoe of choice for the last couple of years. However, I’ve read that the foam can stiffen up if they’re dried too quickly after a wet run and goes after around six months of running anyway. I bought my latest pair in January 2014 but the weather has been so wet, that in 90% of my running they got soaked and were then dried under the radiator, damaging the foam slightly each time. Plus I’ve run around 400km in them! That’s the theory anyway!

A Week Off Running!

A Week of Not Running

Quelle horreur! A whole five days of not running, not swimming… not even really walking anywhere due to my sedentary, desk bound job. After the intense training (well intense for me!) I put in over the last couple of months to try and up my game and the onset of a cough/cold/virusy thing last week, I made a conscious decision to take a complete break until I was feeling better. I often talk about how hard it is to get out of the door for a run sometimes but when you shouldn’t run, it’s hard NOT to head out. I even had my gear on ready for running club on Wednesday evening, before my wife talked me out of it!

Back To It At Parkrun

So after the 10k race last Sunday I’ve done nothing for five days. I know from my previous blog post that five days off won’t make much difference to my fitness levels, so I intend on jumping straight back to it at Parkrun tomorrow. I will let you know my time, disastrous or otherwise!

Rob out.

Running Gear: The Emperor’s New Compression Socks?

Do running compression socks work?

Do running compression socks work?

When I first started running a few years ago I didn’t even consider what socks to wear, or that this might make an actual difference to my performance. After a while, to avoid blisters, I started using specialist ankle running socks which felt fine but in real terms I probably could have kept on with my regular ‘sports’ socks and nothing would have been any different…

Then I noticed people at races wearing these really high socks… They went up to their knees! At first I thought perhaps this was a fashion thing that I really wasn’t getting but then I heard someone call them ‘compression socks’. Hmmm, I thought… that sounds scientific, maybe people are wearing these things for a reason!

I bought a pair and wore them for a few training runs before trying them out in a half marathon. I noticed no difference apart from blisters in places i’d never got them before. This is my investigation into whether compression socks for running actually work…

Possible benefits of compression socks:

A quick look at the description for some compression socks on sale promotes the benefits as:

  • More energy, greater endurance and enhanced performance thanks to improved blood circulation
  • Activates the flow of blood in the muscles
  • Muscle and joint stabilization for reduced risk of injury
  • Increased coordination by activating the muscles for a sense of stability and security when running

But surely they’re biased?!

During a Run – Maybe, Maybe Not!

Blood can pool in your legs. They’re low down so gravity tries to keep more blood than is necessary there. Your heart then has to work extra hard to get the blood up through your leg veins to be diffused with oxygen again and get rid of the lactic acid build up. It is suggested that wearing compression socks might increase venous blood flow, so flushing out these by -products of muscle exertion and warding off fatigue.

THERE IS NO CONSISTENCY in the results of the various studies done on this field. Ali et al. (2007) found that no performance or changes in physiological parameters occurred during or after a 10k run. In a more recent study,  Spurlich et al (2011) also found that compression “revealed no effects whatsoever”. On the other hand, Kremmier et al. (2009) found improved performance when wearing compression socks while running. The problem is that over all the various studies there were a lot of variables, from the type and length of socks, to the abilities and physiology of the studied athletes.

After a Run (Help the Recovery) – Probably!

There’s a theory that suggests that the vibrations created with every foot strike contributes to post-run muscle soreness. The aforementioned study by Ali et al. (2007)  “did find a reduction in muscle soreness, pointing to the muscle vibration and recovery aspects of socks.” Additionally, a study using full lower body graduated compression tights only after exercise showed improvements in muscle soreness (Byrne & Easton, 2010). so it would seem that compression socks CAN help your muscles recover quicker after a taxing run. As Steve Magness says though, it’s the process of damaging your muscle fibres and rebuilding them better adapted to running that helps improve fitness

Graduated Socks

Graduated compression socks

Graduated compression socks

Apparently the best types of compression socks to get are those that compress more down near the ankle, with compression force decreasing towards the knee. Buy them here (just for your info, I get no commission!)

You can read about this in a far better post by Steve Magness on his ‘Science of Running page (also a great book)

Training: The Sunday Long Run

So called as most running training plans to improve 5k, 10k, 10 mile or half marathon include at least one long run per week. This is a conditioning run, run at a comfortable pace (easily hold a conversation whilst running) lasting approximately 90 minutes.

So whilst in other sessions you may be doing a track session for speed improvements, the long run increases your aerobic base, improves running economy… And boosts confidence. According to Ed Eyestone on Runner’s World

The long run delivers the predictable physiological benefits: increased max VO2 and blood volume (the amount of blood ejected from the heart with every beat), and new capillaries and red blood cells.

He then goes on to say:

…Just as important, the long run teaches your body to spare glycogen and reply more on fat as a fuel source.

Plus it’s just nice to really get out and ‘go some’ on a Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, 11 miles in to my long run yesterday I tripped off the curb and went for a ski down the road on my shoulder and face. VERY sore today!


How a Break in Running Training Affects Your Fitness

Not running for two weeks

Not running for two weeks!

As you may have noticed from my recent posts, I haven’t been running much over the last couple of weeks due to blisters sustained in a half

marathon. No training and no races, with just a couple of swimming sessions to keep things ticking over.

With my next championship race upcoming this Sunday, I began to panic about if and how my lack of running may have affected my fitness. My last ten mile race was in November 2013 where I got a PB of 66 minutes, so this time I was hoping to go sub 65 (one of my targets for this year).

So off I went to find out how not running for two weeks affects your running fitness!

Cardio / Breathing

Geoff Gaudette on Runners Connect says that when it comes to your breathing (measured using VO2 Max):

“There is little reduction in VO2max for the first 10 days following inactivity in well-trained athletes. It is prudent here to mention that all of these guidelines assume you are a decently trained runner, having trained consistently for a 4-6 month period. Beginner runners will lose fitness at a slightly faster rate since they have a smaller base of fitness.

After two weeks of not running, studies show that VO2 max decreases by 6%. After 9 weeks VO2 max drops by 19%. After 11 weeks of no running, Studies demonstrate that VO2 max falls by 25.7% from peak physical fitness.

So according to Geoff I’ll be running my 10 miles 6% slower – so should finish in about 70 minutes.

Mental State

There’s also evidence to suggest that having a two week break in your running can lead to increased symptoms of depression such as anxiety or insomnia, although I can’t say I’ve noticed this in general. Only the depressing thought that my times will be getting slower the longer I don’t train for!

Two Weeks Off Running is Fine (yey!)

Matt Johnson at Runners Academy says:

“You won’t lose your aerobic capacity or muscle power as long as your time away from running is less than two weeks.”

He even goes on to say:

“There are times when a week or two away from running is actually beneficial, such as after a strenuous marathon performance.”

Well my Blackmore Vale Half Marathon run was probably the toughest run I’ve ever done, mentally and physically so perhaps a little break has been of benefit. My dodgy ankle niggle that I couldn’t seem to lose has certainly disappeared!

Basically it’s largely about confidence. Think you’re going to run a bad, slow race and you probably will. Go in to it thinking “I’ve had a nice break and now my muscles are full of fuel and energy!” and all should be ok.

Next Training

Blisters feeling better so will attempt a leisurely 5 miler this evening. Need to do something before 10 miles on Sunday!